The Great Buddha of Kamakura

Still catching up on blog posts from our latest trip to Japan, but today I wanted to share some photos from the Great Buddha of Kamakura, or in Japanese Kamakura no Daibutsu (鎌倉の大仏).1 The Great Buddha is one of two major attractions in the old city of Kamakura, the other being the grand shrine of Tsurugaoka-Hachimangu (more on that in a later post). We came to Kamakura in late December during a late afternoon.

The Great Buddha was originally part of a temple called Kōtoku-in (高徳院), but that temple was swept away by a terrible tsunami in 1498 (mentioned in this blog post too), leaving only the bronze statue of Amitabha Buddha behind, the Buddha of Infinite Light. The current structure was built after this of course. This is near the front entrance of the premises, the Niō-mon Gate:

There is also a sign near the front entrance as shown below. Because it’s pretty far removed from walkway, it’s hard to get a good view of the sign without zooming in, so apologies for the poor quality photo:

Looking online, the message reads:


STRANGER WHOSOEVER THOU ART and what soever [sic] be thy creed. when thou enterest this sanctuary remember thou treadest upon ground hallowed by the worship of ages.
This is the Temple of BHUDDA [sic] and the gate of the Eternal, and should therefore be entered with reverence.


The antiquated English, and the heavy use of katakana (instead of hiragana) suggests that this sign was probably written in the early-modern Meiji Period, but that’s just a supposition on my part. Once you go past the sign, you will be greeted by the following:

Up close, the Buddha is definitely bigger than pictures suggest:

It’s hard to see from here, but the back of the statue contains some stairs where, prior to the pandemic, you can climb up inside the head. However, that is off-limits now.

The Great Buddha is also were I got my old Buddhist rosary way back in 2007 or so, and I picked up a new omamori charm here:

Around the premises, they have a lot of nice gift shops and goods you can get there, plus lots of nice shops outside the presmises.

In short, it’s a great place to visit for half a day or so, whatsoever be thy creed.

1 This is to help distinguish it from the Great Buddha (daibutsu) in Nara, of course.

Published by Doug

🎵Toss a coin to your Buddhist-Philhellenic-D&D-playing-Japanese-studying-dad-joke-telling-Trekker, O Valley of Plentyyy!🎵He/him

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